Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Debt Settlement Impact On Your Credit Score

All debt relief programs can affect your credit score in one way or the other. The extent of the damage will depend on what the specific program will ask you to do in order to get yourself out of debt.

Your credit score indicates a lot of things about your financial standing. If you have a low score, that means that your are either too deep in debt, or you have a bad habit of not paying your dues. It can also mean that you have too many credit accounts open and you cannot meet all of the payment requirements diligently. These are only a few of what a low credit score will show. Bottom line is, a low score forecasts you in a very bad way financially.

Next to bankruptcy, debt settlement is the option that has the most negative effect on your credit score. When you choose to get out of debt through debt settlement, one of the first things that you will do is to default on your payments intentionally. You need to convince your creditors that you are in a financial crisis and to do that, you have to be unable to pay for your credit obligations. When you start missing your due dates, this will be marked negatively on your score. You can end up losing between 30 - 150 points on your current score.

Of course, you are not really spending that money on something else. What you should have been sending your creditors will be saved in a secure account that will eventually be used as your settlement fund. When this amount is big enough - usually in 6 months or so, you can use the accumulated funds to offer as payment for your debts. When the creditors agree to accept this amount, you can send this payment (which is lower than your current balance) and the rest of your debts is forgiven. Once the whole process is done and your debt is now equal to zero, it is still not a clean slate. Your credit report will show that you “settled” your debts instead of paying it off the traditional way. While it is not really lessen your score, this word will tell lenders that you had trouble paying off what you owe before.

Another effect that defaulting on payments will do on your score is debt accumulation - especially if most of what you owe are credit card debts. These type of credits are notorious for high interest rates and late penalty charges. Once you stop paying your dues, these can grow your debt total significantly. That can affect your credit score because one of the things that it monitors is your total debt amount.

While these can be quite discouraging, it is better to continue with debt settlement if you have analyzed your finances and have come to the conclusion that debt reduction is your best option. Your credit score may suffer but you can always rebuild it once you have settled your debts. Just make sure that you have learned the necessary lessons that will ensure you will stay out of debt for the rest of your life.

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